The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments today in Brackeen v. Haaland in which lawyers for Gibson Dunn will argue for overturning, or at least seriously undermining the sovereignty of Native American nations under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The high-powered corporate law firm, which represents (or has represented) Chevron (for whom it executed a scorched earth campaign against Steven Donziger), Energy Transfer Partners, and Enbridge, is representing, pro bono, white foster parents seeking to strike down ICWA’s clear prioritization of Native prospective adoptive parents.
For centuries, U.S. policy sought to destroy Native American nations and people, including through genocide, forced relocation, and by separating children from their families and holding them at boarding schools, so that, as articulated by Richard Pratt, founder of the infamous Carlisle school, “all the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him, and save the man.”
Congress passed ICWA in 1978 to prevent separation of Native families, and the effort to undermine protections of Native children mirrors previous efforts that served as precursors to broader attacks on tribal sovereignty overall.
Sovereign Native American nations’ opposition to fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure has successfully halted or stalled numerous fossil fuel projects, including the $7.5 billion lost by the Enbridge Dakota Access Pipeline, a project of Energy Transfer Partners. (The Atlantic, Crooked Media, NPR, Vox, Mother Jones; Energy Transfer: Bloomberg Law, Enbridge and DAPL costs: Crooked Media; Commentary: Slate, Michele Kriegman)